Friday, April 22, 2011

Small Town People With Big Mouths

I could write a LONG story here but I will respectfully decline to do so--at least for now.

In case you have never been to Leoti, Kansas, you do not know how small our little town is. When you enter from any direction into town, you can easily see the exit of Leoti straight ahead of you. Living in a smaller community has many ups but it also has some downs. One up is that we usually know just about everyone. We usually know when something good and something bad has happened to our local people. Though I don't think that it happens as much as it used to, we come to the rescue of the one who is going through a tough time for whatever reason. For instance, in 1995 when my father was dying of cancer, various families banded together and delivered meals to all of us who congregated at Mama and Daddy's house every evening. It was wonderful to know that other people cared about Daddy and the people who loved him the very most. On April 29th, God took him Home with Him. Again, people seemed to trip over one another to deliver food and the much-needed moral support that we so desperately sought in our lives at that time.

At least I assumed that all families received this kind of love and caring at their darkest hours. As time has gone on, acts of kindness such as this, seem to be farther apart. Now, families whom have just lost their people, are having to fend for themselves more often than not. Fewer people prepare meals and snacks for their friends and neighbors. They seem to be staying a safe distance from the people who are going through the toughest days of their lives. Why? I cannot answer that. The pain that people feel today is just as raw and terrible as it ever has been.

Gossip has always been around. I'm not going to deny that I have done more than my fair share of this sinning. Anytime you walk into a business where people are sitting enjoying a hot cup of coffee, you'll hear an earful. Sometimes, there is so much gossip that both of your ears cannot absorb it all. Of course, some that is spoken is the absolute truth. But at many other times, the story has lost most of its validity because it has changed so many times from what was originally spoken. Remember the "Tell a Story" game? Many of us played it in school. It was developed so that we could be taught how qickly and terribly the original story changes once it goes from the first person to the person who hears it 20 people down the way. Sometimes by the time that it reaches the last person, none of the original statement remains. Instead, it is totally distorted. Anybody who lives in a small town or village knows EXACTLY what I am talking about. It is just too bad that when we played this game as a child, we didn't learn our lesson that was being taught to us.

People have gossiped about each and every one of us at one time or another. It doesn't matter how saintly we might actually be. Someone out there is always happy to mention something to others that is way off base and can change the color of our lives--possibly forever.

This brings me to something that I was told last night. A mother-to-be walked into a local business. People walked up to her and told her that they had heard that this person and that person were "candidates" as the baby's father. They demanded to know who the real daddy was. What??? Have we slipped that much that we actually think that this is proper behavior??? Do we not care enough about other's feelings that we think that this is okay???

Through the years, people have spoken behind our backs about the possibility of this person or that person having an extramarital affair. Some of those people have gone right up to the person's spouse and asked him/her if he knew that this was happening! More than a few times, all of this information was as far from being the truth as it could get. No matter how strong the marital relationship is for the married couple, a little or a lot of doubt enters into the equation here. Some marriages could not stand up to the contraversy. Irrepairable damage was done and the marriage ended up in divorce court.

What is happening? Do we no longer care about the hurt, despair and damage that our words cause other people??? Many of the hurt people are totally innocent of what they are being accused of! Not only have they been hurt, but so have their closest friends and family members.

Almost thirty years ago, I walked into an office and saw a picture hanging on the wall. All that it said was this:

"Keep your words soft and sweet. You never know when you are going to have to swallow them."

I've never forgotton that simple piece of advice. Maybe it is high time that we all start remembering this phrase BEFORE we open our mouths and say something that might devastate someone else's life.


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